Chase Manhattan, First Union, and Wells Fargo banks yesterday outlined plans to form a joint venture to accelerate the adoption of online bill presentment.
The new company, temporarily called the Exchange, will act as a hub to deliver bills and payments between member companies and their customers. "This is an important step in filling a gap in the electronic-billing marketplace today," says Ronald Braco, senior VP at Chase Manhattan, who is acting as chairman of the Exchange's steering committee. "We want to produce something that allows one connection to all corporate customers and one connection to consumers."
Braco says the idea of a centralized connection point for online bill presentment is based on the same concept banks exercised when they built a centralized network that allowed customers to access different banks when using automated teller machines. The founding banks are opening the membership to all other financial institutions.
The Exchange will use Sun Microsystems' SunConnect secure open architecture--designed to handle multiple simultaneous transactions--to process the Internet transactions. It will also incorporate software developed by Visa USA for financial-transaction processing.
The banks anticipate the venture will begin operating by the end of the year, and a name for the company will be announced in the near future.